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Rugged fanless box-PC suits wireless mobile apps

Oct 1, 2013 — by Rick Lehrbaum 2,019 views

MEN Micro announced a rugged, Linux-ready box-PC for use on trains, buses, airplanes, and construction and agricultural vehicles.

The BL50W comes with single- or dual-core AMD G-Series APUs, provides dual full-HD DisplayPort outputs, expands via SD, mSATA, and Mini PCIe slots, offers gig-E, WiFi, GPS, and cellular connectivity, and supports wide temperature fanless operation.

Nuremberg, Germany-based MEN Micro (aka MEN Mikro) says it created the BL50W for use in wireless mobile applications requiring maintenance-free operation in environments subjected to wide temperature variations, shock, and vibration.


Typical applications are expected to include mobile WiFi hot-spots, vehicle display controllers, onboard diagnostic computers, fleet management systems, and mobile communications gateways supporting passenger Internet access. Deutsche Bahn, for example, is currently testing first prototypes of a BL50W-based system for precise positioning of trains in order to maximize track usage efficiency.

BL50W Box PC
(click image to enlarge)


The BL50W is available in various models based on a selection of AMD’s Embedded G-Series APUs, ranging from a single-core 615MHz (4.5W TDP) part up to 1.65GHz dual-core (18W TDP) model, and equipped with up to 4GB of soldered-down DDR3 SDRAM. The system offers up to two full-HD DisplayPort interfaces, has a drive bay for installation of an internal SATA HDD or SDD, and provides SD and mSATA card slots.

BL50W front panel and internal details
(click image to enlarge)


As illustrated above, the BL50W’s front panel provides connectors for numerous standard and application-specific interfaces. Standard functions include two gigabit Ethernet ports and two USB 2.0 ports, and configurable I/O options include serial ports (RS-232, RS-422/485), CAN bus, GPIO, relay outputs, and numerous antenna connections associated with optional internal wireless modules.

Flexible internal system expansion is facilitated by four PCI Express Mini Card slots, each accompanied by two SIM card slots. Among other possibilities, the Mini-PCIe slots can be used for adding WiFi, UMTS, GSM, HSDPA, EDGE, LTE, and GLONASS modules. A dedicated GPS interface comes standard.

The BL50W supports fanless operation over an extended temperature range of -40 to +70°C, and can withstand +85°C for up to 10 minutes, according to MEN Micro. To accomplish this, the device is packaged in a finned aluminum housing, which supplies a combination of conductive and convective cooling to its internal electronics.

The system is powered by an integrated class S2 wide-range (30W 24 VDC nominal, 10 to 50.4 VDC) DC power supply that’s said to satisfy EN 50155 (railway) and e1 (automotive) certification requirements. Power can be switched on and off via an ignition signal on the power connector, and there’s a software-configurable delay from switch-off to system run-down.

Summary of specs

Key features and specifications listed by MEN Micro for the BL50W box-PC include:

  • Processor — available with a range of AMD Embedded G-Series APUs, ranging from single-core 615MHz T16R (4.5W TDP) up to 1.65GHz dual-core T56N (18W TDP)
  • Memory — up to 4GB DDR3 SDRAM (soldered-on)
  • Graphics:
    • AMD Radeon HD 6310 (embedded in T48N APU)
    • Dual DisplayPort, up to 2560×1600
    • Supports dual-independent display operation
  • Storage:
    • 1x SD slot (via USB)
    • 1x mSATA slot; supports 3Gb/s (300MB/s)
    • SATA 3.x; supports 6Gb/s (600MB/s)
  • Video — 2x DisplayPorts with full-HD resolution
  • LAN — 2x gigabit Ethernet on M12 connectors
  • USB — 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Other I/O — 7x GPIO; 2x relay outputs; 2x photo couplers; 1x odometer input; 1x IBIS slave interface; GPS/GLONASS interface; RS-232 serial port; RS-422/485 serial port; 2x SA-Adapter slots (for legacy serial I/O); 1x SA-Adapter slot for CAN, serial, or IBIS;
  • Expansion — 4 PCI Express Mini Card slots with 2 SIM card slots each
  • Dimensions — 400 x 240 x 60mm (15.7 x 9.4 x 2.4 inches)
  • Weight — (not currently listed)
  • Power — 24 VDC and 36 VDC nominal (10 to 50.4 V) class S2 power supply, including ignition
  • Operating temperature — -40 to +70°C; supports +85°C for up to 10 minutes
  • Ruggedization features:
    • Ribbed aluminum housing
    • Conformal coating
    • Shock — 50 m/s², 30 ms (per EN 61373)
    • Vibration — 1 m/s², 5-150 Hz (per EN 61373)
    • Meets EN 50155 requirements (railways)
    • Meets e1 requirements (automotive)
  • Operating system — Linux; Windows 7/ES7/XPe


Further information

The BL50W is currently shipping, at an unlisted price. Further information may be found on MEN Micro’s website.

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